Video report provided by RAWA the day of the Granai Massacre, of which WikiLeaks reportedly will release classified footage. The U.S government has always reported 26 civilians were killed though, investigations by rights groups have said more than 90 children alone were killed in the airstrike. The government has also claimed that the Taliban was responsible for a bulk of the casualties, though civilians claim the Taliban had left well before the U.S. warplanes rained bombs on their village through the middle of the night. (2:08):
Classified video footage of U.S. warplanes “repeatedly” dropping 500- and 2,000-lb. bombs, massacring up to 147 Afghan civilians of the Bala Baluk district of Farah province last May, is expected to be released on the internet by WikiLeaks, Ben Farmer reported at the London Telegraph last night.
Last week, WikiLeaks, a website that posts materials provided by whistleblowers, released a classified U.S. military video depicting the 2007 indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen non-hostile people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad—including two members of Reuters news staff—and wanton destruction of an apartment complex with families inside.
Julian Assange, editor, “says he was followed on a flight from Reykjavik to Copenhagen by two American agents” as he “claims surveillance has intensified as he and his colleagues prepare to put out their Afghan film”, Matthew Campbell reports at the London Times today.
General David Petraeus—combatant commander of U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central Asian theaters—told National Public Radio, weeks after the attack, that he had seen the video and it “very clearly shows bombs hitting individuals who are the Taliban who are reacting to the movements of the Afghan and coalition forces on the ground” and though, “there were civilians killed in this incident along”, the “targets of these different strikes were the Taliban”. He added that he believed the video would be shown “as part of the press briefing” the U.S. probe.
The video was to be released with a Pentagon investigation report, but Pentagon officials were doubtful, “out of fear that its findings would further enrage the Afghan public, Pentagon officials told McClatchy,” Nancy Youssef reported, June 15, adding later [emphasis added]:
Two U.S. military officials told McClatchy that the video shows that no one checked to see whether any women or children were in the building before it was bombed….
The seven-hour incident on May 4 began when Afghan police were ambushed while they were patrolling a road. Some officers were killed, prompting the police to call in the Afghan army. The army then came under attack, too, and the provincial governor called in U.S. forces.
The U.S. forces eventually called in air support, military officials said, and after the airstrike began, the Taliban moved into two remote villages separated by poppy fields that were a source of heavy enemy fire, and the fight continued into the night.…
The May 4, 2009 late-night attack on the hamlet of Granai (also translated “Garani“) in the province of Farah was sharply protested with “Death to America!” chants and become known as the “Granai Massacre“, as Reuters reported, “Villagers brought truckloads of bodies to the capital.” Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan called the attack, “one out of many war crime cases” committed by the Obama Administration in Afghanistan and compiled graphic photos, consistent with the initial claims of Afghan civilians and officials (2:42):
A “tribal elder with extensive local knowledge of the surrounding area” said the Taliban were never within a kilometer of the Granai village, Guy Smallman reported at the Financial Times, last June. “The U.S. disputes this account and claims that the Taliban entered the village, turning it into a legitimate target”, adding [emphasis added]:
There is a partially destroyed farmhouse and two large craters. [Taliban] fighters briefly regrouped here in the evening before melting back into the maze of ditches and trees in the surrounding countryside. Yet bombs landed there 90 minutes later, the elder says.
Again, the Americans disagree and say the bombings took place in the heat of battle with the Taliban, with no delay. The elder’s account appears to be corroborated by other residents of Granai who spoke in Farah to the Institute of War and Peace Reporting….
Two parts of the village saw the greatest loss of life. One, the main village mosque, is in ruins. Its dome is still intact, with the speakers used to announce the call to prayer hanging limply from the roof. But the area immediately around it is a mass of rubble and craters. Every building in the vicinity has been demolished.
It was dusk when the attack came. A large crowd of people were in the garden after evening prayers.
On the other side of the village is what looks like a piece of open waste ground. But closer inspection reveals the foundations of a house. Items of clothing and broken crockery are strewn among the debris. This was where people gathered after the attack on the mosque….
“The people were afraid. About 10 to 15 families gathered in the same place to be safe together. This was in the evening and it was dark,” says the elder. He recalls a small “helicopter” with no pilot that made a “zzzz” sound. He appears to be describing one of the pilotless drones used by Nato troops to relay video film of the battlefield.
“My cousins, my sister, my nephews and also my nieces were all killed in this place,” he says.
“About 13 or 14 people related to my sister were killed here. I found my nephew’s body recently over there. A farmer found another body over there.”
On the hill, beyond the village, are traditional Muslim graves ranged as far as the eye can see.
The fresh ones number more than 70. The elder points to those of his sister and her children. Then at the far end of the cemetery he stands before one enormous grave stretching more than 50 metres across.
“This is the grave that almost 55 people are buried in because their bodies are in pieces,” he says….
“These are poor people. They hate the government, they hate the Americans and they hate to live in this place. We think that this country is like a prison for us.”
“The Pentagon initially claimed that the entire incident was made up and that the Taliban had pre-killed all the civilians and stored the bodies in buildings before tricking the U.S. into bombing those buildings,” Jason Ditz at AntiWar News writes. “They later conceded to have killed 26 people, but insisted that ‘no one will ever’ know the exact numbers. They also claimed that the planes had no idea any civilians were in the area” before dropping 500- to 2,000-lb. bombs.
Last June, Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, demanded ‘real accountability’ for the U.S.-led coalition’s mounting death toll of Afghan civilians—notably the May 2009 attack on Farah.
Afghan officials were reporting 147 civlian deaths—including 95 children—as a result of the U.S. airstrikes. Jeremy Scahill reported the U.S. government was doing all it could to shift blame for the massacre of civilians on a Taliban ‘staging’, May 7, 2009 [emphasis added]:
By day’s end, the Pentagon was seeking to blame the Taliban for “staging” the massacre to blame it on the U.S. Last night, NBC News’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said military sources told him Taliban fighters used grenades to kill three families to “stage” a massacre and then blame it on the US. The senior U.S. military and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, spoke in general terms: “We have some other information that leads us to distinctly different conclusions about the cause of the civilian casualties,” he said. McKiernan left the specific details of the spin to unnamed officials.
According to The Washington Post, “A U.S. defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that ‘the Taliban went to a concerted effort to make it look like the U.S. airstrikes caused this. The official did not offer evidence to support the claim, and could not say what had caused the deaths.” Meanwhile, according to the Associated Press, a senior Defense official who did not want to be identified “said late Wednesday that Marine special operations forces believe the Afghan civilians were killed by grenades hurled by Taliban militants, who then loaded some of the bodies into a vehicle and drove them around the village, claiming the dead were victims of an American airstrike. A second U.S. official said a senior Taliban commander is believed to have ordered the grenade attack.”
As the AP reported, “it would be the first time the Taliban has used grenades in this way.”
While the Pentagon spins its story, the International Committee of the Red Cross has stated bluntly that U.S. airstrikes hit civilian houses and revealed that an ICRC counterpart in the Red Crescent was among the dead.
By June 3, the NYT reported that the U.S. military concedes to making “significant errors” in its airstrikes. The following day, the Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. military concedes the air strike as “overkill”, but still thinks only “26 civilians were mistakenly killed”
A report released in mid-June by the U.S. government “found 26 confirmed civilian casualties but concedes that it is impossible to determine a final number because some were buried before investigators arrived,” Ms. Youssef reported at McClatchy. “However, it also cites an investigation by the Afghan Human Rights Commission shortly after the May 4 incident, which found 86 casualties.”
The U.S. military said it would not pursue any internal disciplinary actions for the Granai Massacre, so it’s pretty clear that the massacre the Pentagon doesn’t want us to see was ‘mission accomplished’, right?